Encouraging vaccine hesitancy by “explaining” it
Yesterday we saw that libertarian economist Donald Boudreaux applauds Joe Rogan for uncritically “airing ideas” that undermine confidence in COVID vaccines.
Why does Boudreaux approve of this? Since he is a libertarian, you might think it is because misinformation is liberty, or something. But no. He claims that vaccine skepticism is actually reasonable (my bold):
The bottom line is that vaccination against Covid is today insisted upon with the same fervor that religious zealots centuries ago exhibited when insisting upon the truths of their particular dogmas. Sensible people naturally are highly suspicious of such dogmatism and will resist becoming its victims.
If governments and public-health officials are looking for people to blame for vaccine hesitancy, they need only look in the mirror.
Got that? The people responsible for vaccine hesitancy are the people advocating for vaccination, not the people spreading half-truths and lies. How does Boudreaux reach this remarkable conclusion?
He lists several familiar complaints about government officials that, he claims, have undermined trust in both the officials themselves and the vaccines, such as:
- Fauci’s “180 degree fliperoo” on masks
- Unfair criticism of The Great Barrington Declaration
- The hypocrisy of politicians violating restrictions
- Disregarding the pre-pandemic public health consensus against lockdowns
- Governments ignoring the age profile of COVID mortality in their push for vaccinations
- Governments disparaging natural immunity
- The unprecedented speed of vaccine development/approval
Now, these considerations may in fact lead some people to worry about the safety and efficacy of COVID vaccines, although Boudreaux produces no evidence for this, and my guess is that most people who are vaccine hesitant have not heard of most of these arguments. But none of these arguments show that vaccines are unsafe or ineffective. And as Boudreaux is no doubt aware, the vaccines are, in fact, safe and effective for the vast majority of people.
But Boudreaux can’t bring himself to address the underlying substantive issue. He can’t bring himself to review the actual evidence, or even to say “Yes, I understand why you might be skeptical of Fauci or object to vaccine mandates, but the vaccines are highly effective and you should almost certainly get vaccinated. If you have any doubts, speak to your doctor.”
Instead, Boudreaux presents considerations that might explain why some people are vaccine-hesitant and calls people who take these considerations to be decisive reasons “sensible” without addressing the merits of these arguments. By doing this, he leaves his readers with the impression that these arguments may well be correct.
They are just some Libertarians trying to thin the herd.
The problem with thinning the herd is: where will you find people to change your diapers when you are old and decrepit?
Yes, understood. The other problem with that is that others might agree with Libertarians more about thinning the herd, but agree less with them on the issue of nonviolence. In any case, the cautionary tale is be careful what you wish for.
The comment eating dog must like my language at times because it really eats it up.
Donald Boudreaux has missed the major cause of skepticism. D Trump and his administration.
It works both ways. If you are for him/them then you believe the necessity to not trust and thus get vaccinated. If you understood him/their ineptitude, well then you would not trust the vaccine until proven safe by people other than him/them.
Actually, the right has been pushing the “don’t trust government” for decades as a political lever. I’ve noted it here in my writing a long time ago that the biggest thing the right was doing to harm our society and thus economy (economics blog and all) was the whittling away at public trust.
Funny. People believe and site We the people until they talk about government.
I tend to be skeptical of someone who tries to present opinions as facts or mixes opinions with facts as if they were the same thing. I don’t remember at least two of his objections happening at all, or at least I did not interpret what I saw as anything close to what he said.
The hypocrisy of politicians who don’t follow their own orders? I thought it was a list of causes of vaccine hesitancy, not a long standing well known criticism of the political class. Knowing that politicians think the rules don’t apply to them didn’t used to reflect badly on the rules themselves.
Libertarians are four year olds. The reason they burn their eyeballs out with blowtorches is that mommy told them not too. We should really start spreading some gun safety videos suggesting that one never clean one’s revolver by placing it in ones mouth and pulling the trigger repeatedly to empty it.